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Adjuvant radiation for WHO grade II and III intracranial meningiomas: insights on survival and practice patterns from a National Cancer Registry



WHO grades II (atypical) and III (malignant) meningiomas are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The role of adjuvant radiotherapy (RT) in management remains controversial. The goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of adjuvant RT on 5-year survival in patients with atypical and malignant meningiomas. We secondarily aimed to assess contemporary practice patterns and the impact of sociodemographic factors on outcome.


We queried the National Cancer Database for patients ≥ 18 years of age with cranial atypical or malignant meningiomas from 2010 through 2015 who underwent surgical resection with or without adjuvant radiotherapy. Subjects with unknown WHO grade or radiation status and those not receiving any surgical procedure were excluded from analysis.


The study includes 7486 patients, 6788 with atypical and 698 with malignant meningiomas. Overall 5-year survival was 76.9% (95% CI 75.5–78.3%) and 43.3% (95% CI 38.8–48.2%) among patients with WHO grades II and III meningiomas, respectively. Adjuvant RT correlated with improved survival in a multivariable model in patients with grade II tumors (HR 0.78; p = 0.029) regardless of the extent of resection. Age (HR 2.33; p < 0.001), male sex (HR 1.27; p < 0.001), Black race (HR 1.27; p = 0.011) and Charlson-Deyo Score ≥ 2 (1.35; p = 0.001) correlated with poorer survival whereas private insurance (HR 0.71; p < 0.001) correlated with improved survival. Adjuvant RT was also associated with improved 5-year survival among those with grade III tumors on univariate analysis (log-rank p = 0.006) but was underpowered for multivariable modeling. Utilization of adjuvant radiotherapy was only 28.4% and correlated with private insurance status. Academic institutions (25.3%) and comprehensive community cancer programs (21.4%) had lower radiotherapy utilization rates compared with integrated network cancer programs (30.5%) and community cancer programs (29.7%).


Adjuvant RT may correlate with improved overall survival in patients with grades II and III intracranial meningiomas regardless of the extent of resection. There is poor utilization of adjuvant RT for patients with grades II and III meningiomas likely due to a paucity of quality data on the subject. These findings will be strengthened with prospective data evaluating the role of adjuvant RT.

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We would like to express gratitude to Paul A. Decker, MS for statistical review of the manuscript.


This work was unfunded.

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Correspondence to Anshit Goyal or Ian F. Parney.

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Brown, D.A., Goyal, A., Kerezoudis, P. et al. Adjuvant radiation for WHO grade II and III intracranial meningiomas: insights on survival and practice patterns from a National Cancer Registry. J Neurooncol 149, 293–303 (2020).

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  • Atypical meningioma
  • Malignant meningioma
  • Adjuvant radiation
  • Extent of resection
  • National Cancer Database